School of Engineering


WaterNet Symposium Award for Budding Scientist

WaterNet Symposium Award for Budding Scientist

A Master’s degree in Engineering candidate in the Discipline of Bioresources Engineering, Mr Tinashe Lindel Dirwai, won an award for his presentation at the 19th annual WaterNet/Water Research Fund for Southern Africa (WARFSA)/Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWP-SA) Symposium, held in Livingstone, Zambia.

The theme of the symposium, hosted by the University of Zambia, was Integrated Water Resources Development and Management: Managing Water for the Future in a Changing Environment in Eastern and Southern Africa.

The symposium promotes interaction among policymakers, academics, practitioners from water and related sectors, and co-operating partners. It encourages these groups to identify regional issues, gaps and priorities that require further research and support, and emphasises the integration of knowledge.

Dirwai recently completed his Master’s research on the topic of engineering and water governance interactions in smallholder irrigation schemes for improved water management. His presentation – which won him the Lewis Jonker Distinguished Young Water Scientist award – was on the topic of water governance variables that impact water adequacy in smallholder irrigation schemes based on a case of the Tugela Ferry and Mooi River irrigation schemes.

‘This goes in my books as one of my greatest achievements,’ said Dirwai. ‘The award boosted my research confidence as an up-and-coming young scientist, and presenting and sharing my research with an international audience gave me new insights and opened new doors of research inquiry.’

Dirwai hopes his research will contribute to realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals by aiding farmers in improving their water adequacy and thereby boosting agricultural productivity and food security. He is doing this by investigating the water governance variables that smallholder farmers could adopt and implement for improved water adequacy.

Dirwai, who completed his Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering at the University of Zimbabwe, was drawn to UKZN by its vibrant research culture and aims to use his time at the Institution to further his professional experience. He is passionate about research, and plans to progress to PhD studies.

Outside of his studies, Dirwai organised the first TEDx event for UKZN in Pietermaritzburg in 2017.

Dirwai thanked his supervisors, Professor Aidan Senzanje and Dr Maxwell Mudhara, for providing constructive criticism and challenging his thinking.

He also acknowledged the Water Research Commission for funding his research under the K5/2556 project involving assessment of the effectiveness of policies and strategies for governance of smallholder irrigation farming in KwaZulu-Natal.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Africa Mabila